Desperate times call for desperate measures

AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman (The Philippine Star) - March 8, 2021 - 12:00am

The vaccines are in and why are so many still complaining? Aren’t we desperately seeking for solutions? In times like this shouldn’t we be happy and excited to get the first dose?

While people around the world are falling in line waiting to get a vaccine shot, Filipinos are hiding behind the curtains on a ‘wait and see’ basis. This mentality is the consequence of how government (in the past and present) has conditioned our people. Fear did not develop from within. It stemmed from how government has handled the situation even during the pre-COVID days when Dengvaxia was first infused, resulting to severe symptoms even death with no clear conclusions.

Why don’t many people like Sinovac? Logically, how can one trust a product from China where the virus originated from? I know this may be a shallow reason but this is the basic truth. It is as simple as that. I also don’t understand why government is pushing for it. What’s the deal here? Worse, the President wants us to thank China for the donation. How can we thank China when at the back of our minds we are thinking of what China has done and how they are handling the West Philippine Sea issue. We still have some trust issues here to be resolved.

I spoke to several government personnel, even some of the men in uniform, who are next in line for Sinovac according to the vaccine czar. In truth, they too do not like the idea of having a Chinese drug inserted into their bloodstream but an order is an order and that’s that. I can just imagine what was going through the minds of the first group inoculated last week. They are the true heroes we must recognize and look up to. But I bet they did it more out of duty than choice.

Don’t forget that the government has a pending order of 25 million doses of Sinovac vaccines. So, was China’s donation of 600,000 Sinovac vaccine truly done out of benevolence? At the end of the day, it is the choices made by government that hurts. Remember there is a price for everything. Nothing in this world is free. Abangan!

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Here is a quick review of the different COVID-19 variants that have confused some of us, including this writer. The different variants are mutations of the virus. To date these variants are named: (1) UK variant or B.1.1.7 lineage which emerged in the United Kingdom; (2) South African variant or B.1.351 lineage which was first detected in South Africa; (3) Brazilian variant or P.1 lineage which was detected in Japan from a traveler coming from Brazil; (4) California or West Coast variant or B.1.427 and B.1429 lineages which is prevalent in San Francisco.

Now let us take a look at the efficacy rate of the vaccines and the clinical trials they went through. By the way, a vaccine trial is a clinical trial that aims at establishing the safety and efficacy of a vaccine prior to it being licensed. Clinical development is a three-phase process. In Phase 1, small groups of people receive the trial vaccine. In Phase II, the clinical study is expanded and vaccine is given to people who have characteristics (such as age and physical health) similar to those for whom the new vaccine is intended. In Phase III, the vaccine is given to thousands of people and tested for efficacy and safety. Many vaccines undergo Phase IV formal, ongoing studies after the vaccine is approved and licensed. Vaccine safety is a vital part of a nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pfizer and BioNTech has gone through Phase 3 final efficacy analysis. Meanwhile, researchers in Turkey said Sinovac is 91.25 percent effective. Turkish trials had included over 7,000 volunteers but the efficacy result was based on data from 1,322 people only. Indonesia said the vaccine is 65 percent effective based on trials involving 1,600 people. Researchers in Brazil said it was 50.4 percent effective at preventing symptomatic infections, barely enough for regulatory approval and below the 78 percent announced a week earlier. Brazil has run the biggest trial so far with around 13,000 participants.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, known as AZD1222, is a viral vector vaccine that requires two doses and can be stored in normal refrigerator temperatures (2 to 8 degrees Celsius). It is composed of an adenovirus derived from chimpanzees and modified to train the vaccine recipient’s immune system to fight the virus that causes COVID-19. The first full peer-reviewed results of phase 3 trials of the vaccine showed that it is safe and effective in preventing infection.

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is an mRNA vaccine. Data from Phase 3 clinical trial confirmed that the vaccine is highly effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 disease. The vaccine, mRNA-1273, received emergency use authorization (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration in December 2020 for use in individuals 18 years of age and older, making it the second COVID-19 vaccine authorized in the United States.

The latest Biospace data on efficacy rates are: Pfizer, 95 percent; Moderna, 94.5 percent; AstraZeneca, 70 percent; Johnson & Johnson, 66 percent (global trial), 72 percent, (USA trial); Sputnik 91.4 percent; Sinovac, 50.38 percent-91.25 percent (depending on location of trials); Novavax, 89.3 percent and CanSino, 65.7 percent (co-developed with Chinese military).

Before you plan to be vaccinated it is best to consult your doctor. Everyone has a different medical concern. One brand of vaccine may be very effective to Pepe while the same brand may not have the same effect on Pilar. Also know that all vaccines, not only COVID-19 vaccines, may have side effects. So, expect to have pain, chills, fever, fatigue, swelling, muscle pain, etc.

During a crisis, it is everyone’s duty to protect others. By being vaccinated, you not only protect yourself but your family, the people you work with and the people around you.

Philippine General Hospital director Gap Legaspi, the first COVID-19 vaccine recipient, has become our hero. He raised his sleeves with no qualms and no excuses, not even a flinch was apparent. He showed courage and bravery when everyone doubted and feared the vaccine. We need men like him in government – men of steel as oppose to men with feet of clay.

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